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Hunter patients to suffer from Medicare Local scrapped



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Joint Media Release

JILL HALL MP Member for Shortland

PAT CONROY MP Member for Charlton

SHARON CLAYDON MP Member for Newcastle

JOEL FITZGIBBON Member for Hunter

HUNTER PATIENTS TO SUFFER FROM MEDICARE LOCAL SCRAPPED

Hunter Labor MPs have raised concerns in Parliament today about vitally important health services in the Hunter Region that could be at risk under new arrangements introduced by the Government.

The abolition of the Hunter Medicare Local could result in the closure of other services run by the organisation, including the Headspace and Partners in Recovery mental health programs, the Connecting Care program and the popular GP Access After Hours service at Maitland, Belmont, John Hunter and Calvary Mater Hospitals, and at the polyclinic in Toronto.

Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon, said “This will go down as the greatest betrayal on the Hunter Region of all.

“Maitland and other towns in the Hunter Region will be in a devastating position in terms of Doctor Services, particularly those after hours if this decision goes ahead,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Member for Shortland, Jill Hall, said “This is an attack on primary health care and it will make health care in the Hunter unaffordable.”

“Hunter Medicare Local support the GPAHH which provides access to after hour health care and reduces the waiting times and back log in Emergency Departments,” she said.

Under the new arrangements, Medicare Locals will be scrapped from June 30 2015. The Government intends to replace them with fewer ‘Primary Health Networks’, though there is uncertainty around what this means for the delivery of primary health services currently provided by Medicare Locals.

Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon, said “This is another broken promise from the Abbott Liberal Government. Before the election Tony Abbott said no Medicare Locals would close, now they are shutting them all.”

“GP Access After Hours has helped more than one million people over the last decade, and has always enjoyed bipartisan support in our region. I call on the Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin, to stand with us and ensure this vital service continues.” she said.

Member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, said the Government’s proposal to charge patients $7 to see a GP or specialist could further undermine the GPAAH service, which is delivered through hospitals.

“Tony Abbott has shifted the burden of primary health care to the State Government, and emergency wards will feel the impact.”

“Even if public hospitals do not charge the fee, are services such as GP Access required to administer and collect $7 from each patient they see in the hospital setting?”

“If the Medicare Benefits Schedule is reduced, what impact will this have on their cost structure, given staff would be required to process transactions, IT equipment acquired and security measures taken?”

Monday June 23, 2014

Media Contact: Christine Boyd (Fitzgibbon) on 0488 654 527 Lisa McDermott (Hall) on 0404 826 720 Heather Robinson (Conroy) on 0405 383 982 Michael Turner (Claydon) on 0438 116 100